Herbert Smith Freehills has won the Minds Count Foundation's inaugural Best Mental Wellbeing Initiative in a Legal Workplace Award, in recognition of its successful mental health initiatives.

The Minds Count Foundation is an independent, Australian charitable organisation striving to decrease work-related psychological ill-health in the legal community, and promote workplace psychological health and safety.

The Awards, which celebrate leadership and innovation in mental wellbeing in legal workplaces, were presented at the Foundation's annual lecture held in Sydney on 19 November.

Herbert Smith Freehills' Mental Health Champion program has seen 250 people across the firm's six Australian offices trained by a professional psychologist to act as a 'first port of call' for colleagues who might be struggling with a mental health issue.

The program includes basic training on mental health conditions and aims to normalise everyday conversations on the subject, equipping Champions with the confidence to manage potentially difficult conversations, and effectively direct people to the appropriate resources and support available throughout the firm.

Herbert Smith Freehills Australian Executive Partner Andrew Pike said, "The mental wellbeing of our people is a key priority, and our Champions are a significant part of our ongoing effort to broaden the conversation about mental health, eliminate stigma and create a fulfilling work environment.

"We know that more needs to be done across the industry to address mental wellbeing issues, and there is a strong commitment at the leadership level of our firm to improve in this important area."

The firm also introduced an onsite psychology service in 2018 to ensure staff had sufficient access to mental health care. A psychologist is available to all people nationally for appointments in person or via Skype.

In addition, this year the firm launched its first global mental health strategy, Thrive. The strategy focuses on culture, prevention and access to support to enable optimal mental health for everyone.

Danielle Kelly, Herbert Smith Freehills' Head of Diversity and Inclusion, commented on the firm's programs, saying "Our firm has made a global commitment to provide a workplace where our people can openly discuss mental health without fear of embarrassment or discrimination, and to ensure that they are prepared with the knowledge to support each other to find assistance. We're very proud of the recognition that we've received for this important commitment to our people".